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Witchfire delay offers transparent look at mid-development design shifts

The Astronauts' creative director Adrien Chmielarz opens up on how changing Witchfire to be open-world affected its development time.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

October 12, 2022

1 Min Read
Screenshot of The Astronauts' Witchfire, taken from the game's official website.

Developer The Astronauts announced that the Early Access version of its shooter Witchfire has been delayed to 2023. As explained by Astronauts co-founder and creative director Adrien Chmielarz, the developers have redesigned the game's structure and core elements to be more open-world. 

It's not uncommon for games to experience sudden changes in design mid-development. However, it's not every day that such a change is made public, let alone for a title in Early Access, and The Astronauts is surprisingly candid on how this affected Witchfire's development. 

Rogue-lite games such as Hades or Returnal (used as examples by Chmielarz) feature connected areas for players to get through, and upon completion, they pick one of several paths to explore in order to repeat the cycle.

Originally, Witchfire's structure was similar to the two aforementioned games, and had barriers that kept players from leaving which would disappear once all enemies were defeated (think Bayonetta). Upon realizing that barriers were too "old school," he elected to shift to an open-world design. 

With the new structure, players can now leave an area if things get too hectic, and exploration of the game's world in any order. "The way the player experiences the world has changed significantly," wrote Chmielarz. "We’ve upgraded combat and exploration from arena style to semi-open world style, and that took time." 

Despite the sudden change, Chmielarz reiterated that Witchfire will remain a rogue-lite. But as a result, the game's Early Access date of late 2022 had to be shifted to early next year, as the shift took longer than he initially expected. Months of development time were lost due to the redesign, he admitted, and only recently got back on track. 

Witchfire has been in development since 2017, and will be the Polish's studio's second game following its 2014 hit, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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